By Norcumi and Fleur Rine
This is what happens when Creativity Daemons get together. It results in copious amounts of insanity masquerading as an ENORMOUS fanfic that was just too much fun to write. Then it spreads, creating even more insanity. Characters get chibi-fied, stuck in battle bikinis, start gnawing on their owners and steal vital chocolate supplies (see Norcumi’s forum for more details). Like I said, just TOO MUCH FUN!!!
Ahem. For those who haven’t read the works of one/both of the writers – well, I was going to do a quick run-through at this point, but it’s too damn complicated. So either go read our works, or just hang on. There’s enough explanation throughout to keep things from being too confusing.
Disclaimer: Gargoyles, when they’re mentioned, belong to Disney and Beuna Vista. Jim, Blair and Megan belong to Pet Fly productions. Jay and Tate belong to Norcumi. Rhiannon, Richmond and Gamgee belong to Fleur.
Time line – This one falls around ‘Family Ties’ in Norcumi’s world and roughly in the middle of the Wastelands Saga.
Detective Jim Ellison, Cascade’s best police officer and resident Sentinel, had heard many different sounds in his lifetime. When you have hyperactive senses, heart-beats, breathing, even talking in another room, are just life’s background music.
But this noise, which had appeared without warning, was by far the strangest. It had started with something very much like the tearing of fine fabric. It was followed by high-pitched static, the kind that made his ears want to bleed, mixed in with the sound of a strong wind rushing through a tunnel. The feel of the air on his skin changed – for a moment, the temperature intensified, then, equally quickly, it plummeted.
“Jim?” Blair Sandburg, his Guide, loft-mate and best friend, touched his arm gently, probably thinking he was about to start zoning. “What’s wrong?”
As usual, when a question like that is asked, Fate answers. A breeze built up, like the air in their kitchen had suddenly gotten ambitions to become a cyclone. Abandoned coffee-cups rattled across the table as two spheres of light suddenly appeared, one above the table, the other, half a foot in front of Jim’s face. Instinctively increasing his hearing, he realised that the odd sound was coming from them, which were rapidly growing and changing.
“Whoa..” Blair, of course, was too amazed at the pretty picture the burning, ice-edged spheres were making to realise they were a potential threat.
“Get back!” Pushing the younger man away as gently as possible, Jim pulled out his gun..
Just as the spheres dumped a girl in his arms.
His breath rushed out with a startled “Ooof!” and without thinking, he caught her, pulling her against his chest, one arm under her back, the other wrapped awkwardly around her legs. At the same time, a guy slammed into the table with a heavy thump. Two large canvas bags plopped into existence on his floor a second later.
An arm reached up and latched onto his shoulder. Looking down, Jim saw that it belonged to a dark-haired, olive-skinned girl who looked all of 15. A pair of shocked violet eyes gazed back at him, and he briefly thought that in another five years, this girl would be an absolute heart-stopper. She was wrapped in what looked like a dark blue sheet.
There was groan from the direction of the table. Jim looked up, his mental policeman in full force, and dissected the guy’s looks.
Black, shoulder length hair, brown skin, probably about the same age as the girl, brown eyes, dressed in something that looked like a cape, and a slender build that he could tell would fall into what Megan called ‘the brick shit-house category’ in a couple of years.
“Why is it,” the guy said ruefully, “that whenever we move into a new world, I hit something extremely hard and you get nicely caught by some big, muscular type?”
The girl gave him a shit-eating grin, and purred one word,
The guy groaned and rolled off the table. As he did so, Jim noticed that his fingers were clawed. And his heartbeat was wrong. Familiar, but not what he’d expect from a human.
A gargoyle. Something weird had happened, and a gargoyle was involved. Now, why was he not surprised?
The girl tapped him on the shoulder.
“Thank-you very much for catching me,” she said politely, “but you can put me down now.”
“Not until you tell me how your gargoyle friend can be walking around in broad daylight.”
That stunned them, and all politeness was gone. Before even his fast reflexes could react, the girl was out of his arms and on her feet, measuring him as a potential threat. The boy, he noticed, had stepped up behind her and worst of all, Jim could no longer see his hands.
“Uh,” Blair was frowning at her, “I’d like it if you could tell me why your head is glowing, too.”
The kids exchanged a long glance that held a lot of silent communication. Finally, the guy said,
“How do you know I’m a gargoyle? You can’t see my wings.”
“Your claws,” Jim said, “and your heartbeat.”
Uh-oh. How the heck did he explain this? Before he could, the girl stepped closer to Blair and asked,
“Are you a sorcerer?”
“Uh.. Kinda. I prefer Shaman though. Why?”
Another glance between the kids. Finally, the girl sighed.
“Cards on the table, okay? Richmond,” she waved at her companion and gave Jim a steady look, “is half gargoyle. His human half keeps him fleshy when the sun’s up. I’m Rhiannon, and…” she trailed off, and shrugged at Blair, “well, let’s just say, I’m a couple of steps up from Shaman.” She crossed her arms. “Now, explain yourselves.”
“I’m Blair Sandburg, this is Jim Ellison.” His partner bounced forward, excited, although wether that was due to his insatiable curiosity about new people or Rhiannon’s looks, Jim wasn’t entirely sure.
“That doesn’t explain how you could hear my heartbeat from across the room,” Richmond said, crossing his own arms.
Jim and Blair exchanged their own look. Finally, Jim said, “I can hear better than most people.”
They were clearly not satisfied with the answer, but tough. They’d appeared literally out of nowhere, both of them wearing what he now recognised as honest-to-God cloaks, fer crying out loud. This was soaring past all his usual ratings on the weird-shit scale.
Rhiannon raised a brow at him, and nodded towards the gun still in his hand.
“Is that stuck to you?”
Holstering it, Jim said, “No. I’m a police detective.”
Another look. Richmond laughed.
“I think I’m going to like this world,” he said, “They give Shaman and Big Ears police badges.”
At that moment, the biggest, meanest looking dog Jim had ever seen slipped almost silently into the kitchen. The thing was at least thigh-height and looked like a mix of the nastiest breeds around. Incredibly, Rhiannon immediately knelt (which brought her face about equal with the dog’s) and hugged the animal like it was Lassie the Friendly Puppy.
“Gamgee!” Equally incredibly, something that looked like it ate small children for breakfast licked her face, wagging its tail so fast its butt moved.
“Uh, what is that?” Blair asked nervously, moving away from the dog. For a moment, Rhiannon looked affronted, then understanding flooded her face.
“It’s a dog.” She said it slowly, like they’d never heard of the word before.
“We know what a dog is,” Jim said, “I think Blair’s just surprised at how big it is.”
“Oh.” Shrugging, Rhiannon stood up.
Jim crossed his arms, giving the pair his firmest look, and notching up his hearing.
“Just what are you doing here?”
Rhiannon scowled. “Honey,” she drawled tiredly, “I wouldn’t even be here if I had any say in the matter. Look, we’re not going to eat you or conquer you or ask you to take us to your leader. Hell, I’d be happy if we could just hole up in a nice room somewhere with a bathtub and a radio.”
There was no change in her heartbeat to indicate she was lying. Still, that left her companion. When he turned a questioning look to the hybrid, he raised his hands defensively.
“Swap bathtub and radio for a comfortable chair and some books and you’d keep me happy. Of course,” one corner of his mouth lifted in a rueful smile that was almost as tired as Rhiannon’s drawl had been, “through no fault of our own, that’s probably not likely to happen. We’re magnets for the maniacs.”
He wasn’t lying either. Relaxing somewhat, Jim immediately found himself thinking of somebody else who claimed to be a magnet for the maniacs, and a germ of an idea took root in his mind. Oh, she would hate him for this.
At Blair’s stunned tone, Jim looked at Rhiannon. He’d been so distracted by his thoughts that he hadn’t noticed her slip out of her cloak. Blair’s reaction was understandable. The last time he’d seen an outfit like that, it had been on Xena.
Rhiannon looked down, obviously remembered that she was wearing a couple of small pieces of leather and metal, and quickly yanked her cloak back on, flushing. Richmond snickered.
“The phrase you’re looking for, gentlemen,” he said, smirking, “is ‘battle bikini’.”
“Shut up, Richmond.” She was definitely blushing now.
“Uh,” Blair said.
“Look, the last world we went to, the natives thought I was some sort of warrior chick some prophecy told them about. It was either wear their damn clothes or offend them, and trust me, you don’t offend people who outnumber you fifty-to-one and are all carrying spears. Okay?” Angrily, she wrapped the cloak tighter around herself, crossing her arms.
Oh no, Jim thought, she said the ‘n’ word.
“Natives?” Blair asked, going into the Sandburg Bounce. “Cool! Are you talking about another culture?”
Rhiannon gave Blair a wary look, then turned to Jim.
“Does he always bounce like that?” she asked.
Jim nodded, and sighed. There was really only one thing to do now. “Come on.” Instant suspicion greeted his remark.
“Where?” Richmond asked.
“I don’t want to know about the ‘worlds’ you went to, or are going to, okay? I have enough trouble keeping sane as it is. But I’m not leaving you here by yourselves and I don’t want you wandering around alone either. Since you’re half a gargoyle, I know somebody you might want to meet.” He paused, and shrugged, “You might even have something in common. She’s good at Weird, too.”
Jim gratefully crawled out of the truck, doing a quick scan of the area. Thankfully, no one was close enough to the dorm’s parking lot to get a good look at the others getting out. It had been an interesting fight to get Gamgee into the back of the Ford, and Richmond and Rhiannon had taken one look at the ’69 truck’s cab before deciding to sit in the back with the dog, much to Blair’s disappointment.
Despite missing the chance to interrogate the travellers or, better yet, chatting with Rhiannon, Blair happily led the way into the dorm and up to the second floor, leaving Gamgee guarding the truck. Jim was more concerned with the looks the group was getting from the residents. He hadn’t actually thought it could get worse, but considering the amount of drool following Blair, Richmond, and himself, he was truly beginning to wonder.
“Why do I feel like I’m travelling with three DiCaprio clones?” Rhiannon whispered to Richmond. He didn’t even try to cover his laugh.
Jim coughed to cover his own amusement and moved to join Blair before Jay’s door. They waited a few minutes, while Rhiannon exchanged glares with the girls lurking at their doors. Finally Jim turned to his partner. “You did knock, right?”
Blair gave him an evil look. “Yeah. Hey, is she even in there?”
Before he could extend his hearing to find out, the door opened, an overly innocent expression on Jay’s face. The instant she saw Sentinel and Guide, it crumpled into irritation, “For the love of- Inside!” After hustling them into the room, she snarled something to the watching girls and slammed the door. Jim and Blair suddenly found themselves as targets for the evil eye. “Do I even want to know what you’re doing here? And who’re your friends?” she added, looking over the young couple, who were far too interested in looking over the jumble of Broadway souvenirs not so much decorating the room as taking it over.
Jim was far more interested in the faint sounds of human life in the room – rather, the sounds that shouldn’t be there. “Jay?” he called, tracking the sounds back to the source and grinning as he hit the jackpot. “You’ve got a shoe under your bed.”
“So?” she asked, heart beat accelerating.
“It’s got a foot in it.”
Said shoe, a men’s Nike far too big for Jay, retreated further into the dust bunnies.
“Jay!” Blair exclaimed, loud enough for anyone in the hall to hear, a fact his giant grin said he was well aware of, “Are you cheating on me?!”
“What?!” a familiar baritone yelped from under the bed, followed by a thud that was accompanied by the entire thing bouncing an inch off the floor. “Ow!”
Richmond leaned over to look at whoever was hiding. “Hey, Mr. Shoe. When you’re hiding under a bed, don’t lift your head.”
“Thanks,” he groaned, and carefully rolled out. Jim blinked. Tate? What was he doing back here?
“Ooooh, god,” Jay groaned, head in her hands. “You do realize that in an hour there’ll be reports of an orgy in here?”
“Promise?” Blair asked, smirking.
Jay stuck her tongue out at him. “Considering your luck with the ladies, I’m gonna ignore that. So aside from destroying what remains of my reputation, what are you doing here?”
“We wanted you to meet someone. Richmond is a half gargoyle.” There was no missing the startled, rather hostile looks from the kids, or Jay and Tate’s sudden interest. “Tate here is one too.” The looks abruptly switched owners. “Jay’s just weird.”
“Speak for yourself, Ellison.”
He grinned at her. “Nah, maybe later. Take care, ok?” He started for the door.
“Hey! Where do you think you’re going?”
“Work, because otherwise Simon is gonna kill us.”
“So you’re just leaving us here?” Rhiannon demanded.
Jim and Blair exchanged a look. “Unless you want to hang around the cop shop in a battle bikini.”
Jay blinked. “Do I want to know?”
“Well I sure do,” Tate added, earning himself an elbow in the ribs. The detectives took that as their cue to escape.
Jay sighed and shook her head, trying to get her mind back into working order. First Tate showed up with no warning, needing a place to crash for the day, not to mention his sudden bizarre interrogation about college life and programs. Then instead of the CA attack she’d been expecting, Jim and Blair showed up, and now she had to baby-sit two kids for him. She finally looked at the “kids” and abruptly revised the thought. Baby-sit wouldn’t really work. Even underneath the cloaks she could make out battle ready stances, and the girl – damn, she never did catch a name – had several scars on her arms. Looked like they could handle themselves. “Ok,” she sighed, running a hand through her hair, “have a seat, chill, whatever. Sorry, I’m just a little whacked out right now, and busy plotting the painful death of a certain pain in the ass sentinel who is hopefully listening in right now. I’m Jay, this is Tate. Um, when Jim said weird, that translates into I can change into a gargoyle thanks to the wonder of genetics and the freak called Sevarius. That and I seem to attract freaks wherever I go, which has made life unfortunately interesting, in-”
Tate stopped her by putting a hand over her mouth. “You’re babbling,” he informed her. “Shut up and let them speak already.”
She pulled his arm away. “Bite me.”
“You’d have to ask nicer than that.”
Jay made a face at him before turning back to the kids. “Sorry. I’m behaving now, really.” They were laughing too much to pretend to believe her, which suited her just fine. It gave her a better opportunity to study them.
The girl was flat out gorgeous, someone she’d normally label a beauty queen wannabe or just one of the rich bitch fashion club members. Either way, Jim’s apparent good intentions aside, she was left feeling incredibly inadequate. The urge to check her hair and clothes was almost overwhelming. Dammit, stressed wasn’t bad enough, was it? Now there’s the urge to grovel. Sigh. Jim is going to suffer. A lot.
Richmond was also doing a wonderful job of knocking her off balance. If she wasn’t practically drooling, she was looking for the wings. One nice guy that’s human. That’s all I’m asking. Jeeze, and most girls are demanding he not be gay or taken. Well, at least he seems to be taken. I think. Dammit, just a little bit of info, Ellison! Painful, messy tests.... Maybe mud on his couch. Won’t that drive him nuts.
“Ahem. So. This is an uncomfortable silence. Nice to know. Um -”
“Babbling,” Tate added again.
“You prefer silence? Don’t answer that. Well, unless you want me to rant some more, feel free to jump into the conversation.”
What do you think, sis? Richmond Sent.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s completely confused, Rhiannon Sent back. Jay was giving her a look she was familiar with – like she wasn’t sure if she should hate her or not. To her credit, she wasn’t drooling too much over Richmond, although there were definite questions in her eyes.
Jay looked so.. normal. Not at all like what she’d expected. Filing the Sevarius remark away in her mental library, Rhiannon turned her attention to the other guy. Tate looked amused, but his stance suggested he could go into battle mode at any provocation. But, like Jay, he didn’t look anything like a half-garg. Hell, if she’d past either of these two in the street, she wouldn’t have given them a second glance.
Well, go on. Do the talking thing, her soul twin pushed. Typical. He so hated doing the introductions.
“Just a question,” Rhiannon said to Jay. Forget the introductions, she was dying to know this, “do you end up slipping on the drool every time those guys pop around?”
Jay grinned and nodded. “Yep. They know it, too.”
“I guessed that. Owell. I’m Rhiannon, this is my rookery brother Richmond,” With a good idea of what Jay had been thinking, she added, “Nothing more.” She could tell by the change in expression that Jay had been thinking they were bed-bunnies. Wondering herself what the deal between her two new comrades was, Rhiannon heaved a mental sigh. The easy part was officially over, “I think we fall into the ‘freak’ category you said you attract. If it makes you feel any better, I can relate. Completely.”
“Rookery brother?” Tate asked, looking from Richmond, who towered head and shoulders above her – damn his growth spurt and his seven-foot daddy – then back to her, a tiny, scarred scrap of skin and bones. “I thought Jim said only Richmond was half-gargoyle.”
“We were born the same night to different parents.” Richmond explained, and shrugged, “Got into the gargy way of seeing each other as siblings.” Since they were on the subject of gargies, Rhiannon thought…
“What’s your story?” she asked, giving Tate the patented Piercing Xanatos Stare, “You look more human than I do!”
Tate and Jay exchanged a look. Just then, there was a pounding on the door. Jay paled.
Rich, get out of here! Even as she Sent it, Richmond was at the window, pushing it further open. Grabbing a startled Tate with one hand, Rhiannon pulled off his cloak with the other, freeing his wings.
Quick on the uptake, Tate waited until Richmond had squeezed – just barely- out of the window, before crawling out after him. With a little help from Richmond, Tate was soon being piggy-backed up the wall of the building. Slamming the window shut to block the sound of crunching stone, praying nobody would look up and notice the pair on the wall, Rhiannon bundled up her brother’s cloak, turning just in time to see Jay shove their bags under the bed. She tossed the cloak in the same direction. I wish I could do the same with this cloak. I look like something out of Lord of the Rings. Not like I can answer the door in the leatherwear though. Oh yeah, that would go down well.
Jay ripped the door open. There was an older girl standing there, hand raised to deliver another knock to the door. She had Official written all over her. The C.A.
“Jay, what is going on?” she asked, looking past her, lingering on Rhiannon, before giving the rest of the room a long look, like she was trying to see through the walls.
“Helen! What do you mean, what’s going on?” Jay babbled. Rhiannon sighed to herself. Either having extra freaks added to her day has still got her rattled, or she’s just a hopeless liar. Better put on the Queen face. Best way to handle this, methinks.
“Helen,” One thing the Wastelands had taught her was that if you act like you think everything is under control and to even question that was the epitome of stupidity, people tended to just shut up and go away. “You look like a woman who has been on the receiving end of much rumour and speculation. Let me give you the true story. I am a friend of Detective Jim Ellison, who is a friend of Jay’s. I am visiting from another country,” Dimension, more like it. “and unfortunately, Jim had to work today. Since Jay is about my age, he asked her to entertain me for the day.”
“They said there was a boy with you..” Helen looked uncertain. Beside her, Jay was staring at Rhiannon with her mouth open.
She shrugged, “I do have a bodyguard. But he’s waiting outside.” Clinging to the wall like the world’s largest slug… “Perhaps they were referring to him. He looks a lot younger than he actually is.”
“I have been blessed with extremely wealthy parents, and my extended family has many political connections,” If you could call having two Fae Queens for grandmothers ‘political connections’, “Unfortunately, that can attract.. unpleasant possibilities my parents wish to avoid.” If they were here. God, I miss them. No, forget about that. Focus on what you’ve got, not what you want, and how to make the latter the former.
“I see…” Helen frowned. After a second, she opened her mouth, but closed it again when Rhiannon raised a brow at her. “Uh, okay. I suppose that’s okay. We just don’t allow boys in the girl’s dorm, that’s all. It’s a rule we have.”
Rhiannon smiled, trying to make it suggest that she thought said rules were very quaint. She succeeded. Helen flushed slightly, and stepped back, mumbling something to Jay, who closed the door and leant back on it.
“How the hell did you do that?”
Unable to keep a straight face any longer, Rhiannon laughed. “Richmond would tell you it’s genetic.”
“You gotta teach me how to do it. Even just the face thing.”
“That’s easy. Just act like everybody else are just entertaining little inferiors. Got that one from Oberon.”
Opps. “My grandmother’s husband.” Deciding to take the opportunity the absent boys offered, she pulled out her bag. Somewhere in there, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt were calling her name. “Hey, do you mind if I get changed?”
“Sure,” Jay said absently, frowning slightly, then her eyes widened as Rhiannon slipped out of the cloak. She grinned. “I suppose that’s what Jim meant by ‘battle bikini’. Do I want to know?”
“Probably not.” Turning back to the bed, Rhiannon heard Jay gasp. She whirled back around, “Look, I know this thing comes with a lot of air-conditioning, but could ya doing me a favour and pretend you think it’s all perfectly normal? It’s embarrassing enough as it is.”
Jay was staring at her, “Your back..”
“Oh. Yeah.” Feigning nonchalance, Rhiannon returned her attention to her bag. “Met up with a gargoyle who didn’t like humans much. He especially didn’t like gargoyle-human hybrids. I got between Richmond and his claws. It got infected, so it looks a lot worse than it actually is. No biggie.” Except for the memories of the terrible, screaming pain across her back from shoulder to opposite hip, Richmond’s horrified face, the blood, and the fever and delirium that had followed. Damn, when I get home, I’m finding a therapist with an open mind and spilling all. She yanked off the stupid, useless metal decorations at her hips, and started pulling her jeans on over the top.
Obviously, she hadn’t put on as good a performance as she’d hoped. Jay sat down on the bed in front of her. “What’s your story?” she asked quietly.
Shit. Nasty ones, she could handle. But for some reason, the nice ones only made her feel worse - more homesick and more frightened than anything some evil-minded prick came up with. As usual, she reacted by pretending she didn’t care. She was getting very good at pretending she didn’t care, even to herself.
“Richmond and I aren’t from this dimension, and judging by that petrol-spewing heap we got over here in, we’re not from this time, either. There are some nasty fae bastards in my world and our families have made it a habit of kicking their butts. Long story cut short, one of the little jerks nicked the cloak of a really powerful fae and used it to send us on a tour through the dimensions. Oh, he took my powers too, just to increase the fun factor.”
In the past few months, Rhiannon had gotten good at changing in relative public without losing too much of her dignity. The loincloth had been okay – thankfully, whoever had designed it had just added leather and metal decorations to the more comfortable fabric underneath. The bra, however, was another matter. Turning her back to Jay, she was out of the leather one and into a normal one in less than a second. Not that Jay seemed to even notice. She had the glazed, stunned look Rhiannon was used to seeing after she told her story. Pulling on her shirt, she waited for Jay’s reaction.
Richmond pulled himself up and dropped his shoulder, letting Tate get off onto the roof. There was definitely some mutual confusion. Tate had the weight of a human, which meant that if he was using a disguise spell, it was a damn good one.
As he crawled onto the roof and stood up, he saw Tate staring at his wings, then at the sky, then back to his wings. Unable to resist, Richmond grinned.
“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
Raising his hands, Tate backed up a step, grinning. “Hey man, that’s my girlfriend down there.”
Giving him the single-fingered salute, Richmond waved his free hand at Tate, “So, how can you be half gargoyle and be so human?”
“I turn into a human by day, and back into a garg at night.” Tate replied.
He shrugged, “I think so. Blame my parents. What about you? How can you have wings in the daylight?”
“Inter-species transformation is beyond me. The body stays like this all the time, but it’s like I’ve got a switch somewhere that lets me be fleshy when the sun’s up.”
“Cool.” Tate was nodding as he spoke. Then he laughed. “And I thought Demona/Dominque was bad enough.”
Richmond stiffened. Oooh boy. Not good. Tate noticed, and he stiffened too. Forget mutual confusion, now it was mutual suspicion.
“You know Demona?” Tate asked finally.
“I’ve met her a few times,” and the times she’s tried to kill me outnumber the times she restrained herself to just looking at me like I was something that should be stepped on.
“Are you friends?” Tate asked carefully.
“Not really. Generally, she thinks I’m an insult to her species. Depends on the world whether she’s insulted enough to try to kill me.”
Tate relaxed, clearly relieved. “Jay’s friends with her but I..” he shrugged, “I don’t know what to think of her.” Just then, some of Richmond’s words hit him.
“What the hell do you mean, ‘depends on the world’?”
Holy. Shit. Jay listened to the last part of Rhiannon’s spiel with only half an ear, mind more concerned with the collection of scars the other girl carried. Unconsciously, her hand drifted up to her own set on the upper half of her chest. That must’ve been a bitch. And infection too? Damn. So much for disliking her. Anyone that could take that sort of damage and keep on going, particularly in a battle bikini, deserved more respect than that. And how she brushed it off as nothing... I doubt that. Must not want the pity parties. The more I hear the more I like. Damn. Can’t hate her.
Finally noticing Rhiannon had stopped talking, Jay pulled her train of thought back on track. Evil fairies, stolen cloak, dimension hopping... Ok, so let’s stick with dimension hopping. That I can handle.
“Whoa.” She grinned sheepishly. “Ok, lame response, but, man, that’s gotta be harsh. How long have you two been travelling?”
The younger girl looked away. “Too long.”
Bad subject let’s move on then. “Gotcha. So... those fae thingies. What are they?” She shot an evil look at the ceiling. “All I’ve gotten out of Tate is some Shakespearian crap about elves that I really think he’s just using to see how gullible I am.”
Rhiannion blinked and raised an eyebrow. “You haven’t run into fae?”
“Heh. Gargoyles, immortals, a vampyre, a Sentinel, and a Shaman. Bigfoot had to reschedule.” Rhiannon grinned and Jay squished a sense of victory. The grin seemed genuine, therefore it was a victory. “And of course, the whole ‘I know gargoyles, someone come attack me!’ sign. Every psycho in the state comes to Cascade, and I think between me and the Detectives, we’ve met all the ones that aren’t busy trying to wear a talking duck.”
A laugh this time, small but definitely there. “Believe me, you haven’t seen weird yet.”
“Eh, gimme some time. I’ve only been in on this gargoyle thing for almost three years. Oh, and speaking of.” She looked upwards again. “Now that we got rid of the guys, how do we get them back?” She grinned evilly at Rhiannon. “Or do we want to?”
That got another laugh. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. They’ll be down in a minute.”
Jay blinked. “How ya figure?”
Rhiannon hesitated for a moment. “Call it a hunch.”
Tate could practically see the ‘oh man!’ expression cross the other hybrid’s face. “Are you familiar with dimensional travel?” he finally asked.
Wha’fuck? “The concept, yeah, but it’s all TV shows and sci-fi books.” He was surprised at the weary, rather bitter smile that Richmond gave him.
“Yeah, exactly. But that’s what we’ve been doing.” He sighed and looked out at the campus. “We’re just looking for home.”
Tate practically shivered at the longing that showed through for a moment. Just what had that pair been through? Immediately following was the thought that he didn’t want to know. Whatever happened... Could I survive it? He was saved from answering the disturbing thought when Richmond blinked and turned back to him. “Ready to head back?”
“Sure. Even Helen can’t talk this long,” he joked, getting a hold around Richmond’s neck. Damn, this is weird. Haven’t done this since I was a hatchling.
“Eh.” Tate grinned. “She’s power hungry, not anal. And since there’s no guys in the freshman dorms on the weekend...” He did his best to shrug.
“Fun,” Richmond drawled, leaping off the building.
“Uh huh. So what’s it like to fly during the day?”
“A lot like flying during the night, except more people and less worries about power lines.”
He landed on the window sill and twisted to give Tate a grin. “Sounds like a story there.”
“Managed to clothesline myself when I was ten and just learning. Call me Sparky and I’ll kill you.”
Both hybrids were chuckling as they swung into the room. Rhiannon arced an eyebrow and gave them a look. “Have fun?”
“Oh, heaps and heaps,” Tate grinned. He was surprised when the girls shared a look.
“They’re bonding,” Jay commented. “Should we start worrying?”
“Yes. Yes we should.”
Richmond and Tate share their own look. “They’re ganging up on us. This is bad,” Richmond muttered.
“So maybe we should just drop the battle bikini idea?”
Double glares. “Eeew. Yeah, I think so,” Richmond said, pretending to cower away. When he stood straight he pulled a small carton from some pocket and started digging a cigarette from it until he noticed everyone looking at him, Jay with more than a little malice. “What?”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“Having a smoke?”
“I don’t think so. Gimme that!” she snapped, snatching the pack away from the startled male.
“Smoke Nazi,” Tate whispered to a startled Rhiannon. “No cancer sticks for you!”
“Damn straight,” Jay added. “Had cancer once, I sure as hell don’t need it again!”
Richmond blinked and looked at her for a moment, then at Tate. “Is she always like this?”
He shrugged. “Hey, I’m on her side. Like she said, had cancer once, don’t need it again.”
“Jeeze, what is this doubles night?”
“Then what does that make you?”
Silence descended. Shit! Tate mentally yelped. Open mouth, insert foot, and keep on chewing!
A sudden rumble from Tate finally broke in, and he blushed bright red. “Skipped breakfast,” he explained with a sheepish grin.
“And you ate my snacks last night,” Jay sighed. “Cafeteria doesn’t open for an hour.” She made a face. “Welcome to college. So... Anyone up to heading out for an early dinner?”
“You just said the magic words,” Richmond decided he was prepared to forgive her for swiping his smokes if she could show them where the food was. Besides, she had her reasons.
You were rude, brother mine. Rhiannon Sent.
I thought people of this time were used to smokers!
You know what they say about what happens when you assume…Besides, Cancer.. eww.
It was, he knew, Rhiannon’s greatest fear, especially now that she was mortal. Forget the weirdos, the psychotics, and all the others who just had a grudge, she didn’t even blink. But even the thought of having ‘her own body turn against her’, as she put it, made her go pale. If Jay and Tate had both survived it…Whoa. Talk about a mutual admiration society.
Uh, ’bout what Tate said - do you think they’ve guessed about the Soul Bond?
Well, I haven’t said anything. Tate probably just thinks we’re alike.
He felt her disconnect, even as she grinned brightly at Jay and Tate. “Just a sec.” She said, “Need to do a Cash Check.”
“Cash check?” Tate asked.
“Different dimensions have different forms of money. Moneybags here,” he hooked his thumb in her direction and got a force-four glare in response, “has made herself the accountant of this trip, and she’s pedantic about it.”
“Just because some of us can disguise ourselves as a lawn ornament while we sleep and don’t go near a shower unless they’re handcuffed to it, others prefer to be able to stay in somewhere with a roof and be clean.”
“What do you do if the money doesn’t match?” Tate asked.
“Sleep on the streets. Or under a tree, or on a roof, or in a stolen car she’s managed to crash – yet again.”
Rhiannon stuck her tongue out at him. Tate whimpered.
“She won’t keep her eyes on the road,” he muttered, pointing at Jay. She grinned. Rhiannon raised a brow, then slowly, she grinned back. There was definitely some sort of secret knowledge in that grin.
“Amazing isn’t it? They’re happy to leap of a building 150 storeys high with just a bit of skin to keep them up, but the second you get them in a car, they freak.”
“You should see them in a car wash.” Jay’s grin widened.
“Hey!” Suddenly, he felt a need to defend his pride, “I only get worried when you drive.”
“I crashed once.”
This time, it was Richmond’s stomach that growled. It sounded almost as demanding as Tate’s had. He grinned sheepishly.
“Heh. You said something about dinner?”
Thank God Jay’s room looked over a quieter part of the college, Rhiannon thought as they joined Tate and Richmond. Her rookery brother was absently sliding his wings into his trench coat, more interested in whatever it was that Tate was saying. Yep, she thought, they’re definitely bonding.
“Hey, Rhea! Tate’s from a gargoyle clan in Connecticut!”
“So what clan are you from? In your world, I mean,” Tate asked.
Their eyes lit up.
“Goliath’s clan?” Jay asked.
“Uh, yeah. Sorta. How do you know them?”
“Let’s just say it was a Field Trip from Hell,” Jay said. She was giving them both a very scrutinising look, and Rhiannon braced herself for the questions she knew would follow.
“You said you were from the future,” she began, “Are you Goliath’s kid? Him and Detective Maza, right?”
Richmond’s jaw dropped. “How did you figure that out?”
Tate smirked. “She’s good at stuff like that.”
“Uh, don’t say anything if you see them, okay?”
“Of course not!” Jay turned to Rhiannon, “So who are your parents?”
“You know that guy who owns the castle on the skyscraper?”
“David Xanatos? Sure, he let me sleep there after well, everything.” Her eyes widened, “He’s your Dad?”
“Yeah. Fox Xanatos is my Mom.”
“Don’t hold it against her,” Richmond said slyly, “sure, she used to be a megalomaniac, but she’s decided to give that up until she Ow!” He broke off as she smacked him upside the head, glaring at him.
“You live in that castle?” Jay asked, “Cool! What’s it like?”
Richmond groaned. “Jay, you’re going to regret this. She loves all that ancient history stuff. She’ll babble away for hours.”
Jay grinned. “I don’t mind. I never really got a chance to explore the castle when I was there. I wanna know more.”
“Let’s find food first.” Tate suggested. As she and Jay walked ahead, Rhiannon heard Richmond lean towards Tate and mutter,
“You were saying something about a Doubles night?”
“I can’t believe God made two of ‘em.” There was a note of mock terror in Tate’s voice.
The next few hours went fast. Jay took them to an All-You-Can-Eat restaurant where they managed to satisfy even gargoyle appetites, severely pissing off the owners of the restaurant, who probably couldn’t figure out how four young people could eat so much. Not that they really noticed, too busy telling stories and comparing notes.
“So, what do you think, Rhea?” Richmond asked finally, leaning back in his chair, “Are their lives are weirder than ours?”
“It’s the gargoyle influence,” she assured Jay, “It’s their fault. As soon as you get gargoyles in your life, all sorts of weird things start happening.”
“So says the girl whose family tree includes branches that are Celtic Myths and Shakespeare stories.”
“But notice that all the wackos are connected to you?” Rhiannon replied.
Jay groaned. “You think the wackos are bad? Everywhere we go, some loser criminal shows up. Every time!”
“Oh, I hear you.”
Tate and Richmond exchanged a glance.
“Is it just me, or does this sound like the weirdest support group in history?” Richmond asked. Tate laughed.
“Yeah, Women Who Think it’s All the Gargoyle’s Fault.”
Jay was frowning slightly. Turning to Tate, she said,
“Ok, so we spent the evening chatting with multidimensional travellers who are from the future and we all actually have something in common. What's wrong with this picture?"
"We haven't been attacked yet." Rhiannon said, smirking.
"Right.” Tate put his fork down and called over his shoulder, “Waiter, we'd like the check and a batch of hoodlums, please."
"What, no dessert?" Richmond asked, a sugar freak to the end.
"That's for after we kick ass.” The serious expression on Tate’s face ended at his eyes.
Jay sighed happily as they strolled out of the restaurant. “Ok, Ellison can live,” she declared suddenly. At the trio of questioning looks, she grinned sheepishly. “No offence, but when Jim shows up and leaves me to entertain his guests for the day, he’s begging for revenge. But I think I’ll let him live.”
“Very kind of you,” Rhiannon chuckled. She glanced around the street, then did a double take at Tate. “What happened? You look more gargy now.”
He grinned, baring small fangs. “Sunset happened. It’s a bitch, but I can stay humanish after dark if I have to. Changing in public is a bad thing.”
“Really?” Richmond drawled, “I hadn’t noticed.”
“Ooo, sarcasm. So, what now?”
Jay made a face. “I dunno about you, but I’ve been going a bit too long. Crashing back at the room is my vote.”
Rhiannon’s violet eyes practically lit up. “Think I could steal the shower for a while?”
She shrugged. “If you don’t mind the whole shared dorm shower thing.”
“You’re kidding, right? Guys? Any opinions?”
The two males shared a look, then Tate shrugged. “Jay’s not the only one going for most of twenty-four hours. Down time sounds good.”
“Cool. Got any books?” Richmond asked, already starting to walk back to the campus.
“Nothing really great, but yeah.”
They made it about two blocks when a small group of young men sauntered out of an alley and down the sidewalk, stopping before the quartet and spreading to surround them. They obligingly stopped before Jay turned to Tate with a glare. “I’m blaming you, ya know.”
“Hey,” one of the guys snapped, pulling out a knife. His cronies pulled out their own assortment of small weapons. “Hand over yer money and no one gets hurt.”
“Dammit!” Jay yelped. “This is your fault!”
Tate half chuckled, half sighed, while Rhiannon gave the group a once over. “Let’s see. Six of you, four of us. Bad odds.” She and Richmond shared evil grins. “Think you could call a few of your friends over?”
The speaker blinked, visibly confused by the combination of fearlessness and the ridiculous. “Uh, you do see the knives we got, right?”
Richmond practically laughed out loud. “That’s not a knife,” he said, pointing to the blade. He flexed his hands, and a sword with a blade that shone silver over a strange, tri-edged guard appeared in them. “This is a knife!”
Rhiannon pretended to study it with a disinterested eye, ignoring the way the humans took a cautious step back. “No, that’s a sword.”
He grinned and shrugged. “Well, yeah, but I always wanted to say that.”
“Excuse me?” Jay called, stepping away from the shoes she’d just pulled off. “Anybody mind telling me where the hell that came from?”
Richmond shrugged again. “It’s magical.”
“Yeah, right,” she said sarcastically. “Come on, magic is just smoke and mirrors. Seriously. Where’d you hide it?”
Tate sighed and rolled his eyes at the ancient argument. “Jay, it’s three feet long. Where the hell could he have stashed it?”
“In his pants?” she asked almost desperately.
“It looks like a very sharp, very real sword. Speaking as a male, I can tell you I’d be very nervous if it was in my pants.”
“Uh, hello?” the lead hoodlum called. “There is a mugging going on here?”
“Hush up you!” Rhiannon snapped, turning her attention onto the other female. “Now let me get this straight. You turn into a gargoyle, you run into weirdness a lot, and you don’t believe in magic? How?”
“I have to draw the line somewhere, ok? And it’s either here or turn into a gibbering twerp in an I-love-me jacket who thinks she’s a sheep and needs to have a nice long talk with Mr. Spoon.”
“And this is different from usual how?” Tate muttered. Jay reached back without looking and whacked him upside the head. “Ow! Now that was uncalled for!”
Everyone ignored him. Rhiannon made a face. “Well if you feel that way I’ll give you a demonstration right here.”
“Feh.” She made a face. “And I’ll give you three seconds before sticking my fingers in my ears and chanting ‘I can’t hear you!’ over and over again.”
Richmond blinked. “Ya know, I think she actually means that.”
“Mugging?” the lead hood called almost desperately. “Money or pain? Are any of you freaks paying attention?”
There was a pause, then all four heads swivelled to focus on him.
“...Freaks?” Tate repeated softly, casually kicking off his sneakers.
“Richmond,” said male’s rookery sister asked in icy tones, “was it my imagination or did he just call us freaks?”
“He just called us freaks.”
“If I don’t look,” Jay said thoughtfully, “can you turn him into a slug?”
“Why not a frog?”
“A, he’s already a toad. B, I snagged some salt packets from the restaurant.”
“Mister, you shouldn’ta said the F word,” Tate growled. “Only fellow freaks are allowed to do that, and you sure as hell don’t count.”
“Well, I can do a frog, but a slug’s out of the question.” The girl made a face. “Frickin’ Raptorus and ‘Lose your powers at my command’....” She faded off into incoherent grumbling.
Richmond leaned over to mock whisper, “She’s still having issues with that.”
“Of course I am! I liked being all powerful! Now I’m just a human with weird ears.”
Jay blinked, hoping very hard that it had been a pretend whine in the other girl’s voice. If not, time to run for the hills. After killing Jim.
“Which brings us back to them calling us freaks,” Richmond said.
The four bared their teeth in a collective grin that had more fangs than any batch of humans should have. The hood’s Adams apple bobbed up and down as he gulped loudly. “Uh, why are you smiling at us like that?”
Richmond didn’t even bother trying to swallow the grin back. These guys were everything he loved in criminals – weak, barely armed, and very stupid. As discreetly as possible, he let his tail out. As he took off his trench coat, Rhiannon turned to Jay and Tate.
“Would you like to go first?” she asked. If every muscle hadn’t been coiled to spring, she would have looked like a polite Victorian woman offering little cheese sandwiches to some visitors in the parlour.
Jay grinned. “Oh no,” she said, equally politely, “You’re the guests.”
“I call dibs on the stupid ones!” Rhiannon cried gleefully.
“No fair! That’s all of them!” Richmond shouted back as he launched himself at the nearest Hood. His wings shot out, and there was just enough time for the guy’s eyes to widen with horror before he slammed into him.
As they crashed to the ground, he heard Rhiannon thump another one, then a startled shout, made three octaves higher than usual by pure fear.
“What’s happening to them?!”
Somebody’s clothes were tearing. It took him a couple of seconds to realise they belonged to Jay and Tate. Their transformation was one of the most incredible things he’d seen – and he’d seen a lot. There was none of the magical sparkles he was used to seeing, and none of the agonised screams he’d gotten with Demona’s transformation. It made the change from human to gargoyle seem like the most natural thing in the world.
“Well, that’s impressive,” Rhiannon said, scuffling with the lead Hood. “How come you can’t do that, Rich.. Oof!” Another crook chose that moment to tackle her, and at almost the same time, somebody else jumped on top of him. His head jerked back, his scalp stinging, as the guy on his back got a handful of his hair and yanked it hard. He whipped his tail out, trying to get a grip on them. It slapped somebody behind them.
“Hey, watch where you put that!” Jay growled. There was a crunching sound directly behind his head, and the grip on his hair vanished about the same time as a scream erupted.
“Opps. Sorry. Wasn’t aiming for you,” he shouted over the top of it. The weight of the guy on top of him lifted, and the scream turned into a whimper. The guy underneath him was still struggling, so Richmond head-butted him, finishing his protests.
“Okay then.” Jay was casually holding a guy twice her human size over her head. She tossed him, beginning to hum under her breath. As Richmond got to his feet and looked around, Tate, who was standing between two knife-wielding crooks, started to hum along with her.
Deciding to give his fellow hybrid a hand, Richmond grabbed the nearest guy, just as Tate and Jay both burst into song.
What the hell? Falling into an instinctive back-to-back position with Rhiannon, he risked a glance at the other two. Singing? Now?
“You know,” Jay said, breaking off her little karaoke routine, “this just butchers my clothes.” She ducked her opponent’s punch, took a half step back, and kicked him.
“Got one word for you two,” Richmond caught the fist thrown at his face and used the thrower’s momentum to hurl him over his shoulder. To the accompaniment of the Hood’s body hitting the ground, he said, “Zippers.”
“What?” Tate asked. His tail shot out, slapping around his opponent’s wrist and pulling it hard enough to make him drop the knife.
“Let’s just say,” Rhiannon smirked as she nimbly back-flipped to avoid Mr. Juvenile Deliquency’s knife. “Richmond here is the only guy in the world with a fly on the front and back of his pants.”
“It works for the back of your shirt too.” Richmond suggested. His opponent wasn’t eager to fight anymore, so he concentrated on finding some way to detain him. Fortunately, the alley was full of his favourites – trash cans.
“Doesn’t anybody notice?” Tate asked him as he joined him in a little Can and Criminal origami.
“Did you notice?”
“Well, no. But your coat covered it.”
Richmond shrugged. “If people comment, I just tell them it’s the latest fashion. You’d be surprised how often that works.” Rhiannon and Jay dragged over the other gang members, adding them to the pile.
“Well, I suppose it would save on clothing,” Jay mused. “Heck, I’d just be happy if I could get a pair of shoes that stretch to fit gargoyle feet.”
“Well, that one’s beyond me.” Richmond admitted, finishing with the makeshift handcuffs. He straightened, and wandered over to pick up his trench coat. Pulling it on, he said,
“Well, that was fun. Now how about that dessert?”
“Dessert?” Tate replied, picking up his shoes. For a moment, he stared at them, then he shrugged, and kept holding them. “Hmm, since we’re all garged out, we won’t have to fight a line, well anywhere.”
“Yeah,” Jay was casually swinging her sneakers by their laces, “but I’ve heard enough screaming for one night. How ‘bout we hit the DQ drive through for some ice-cream?”
“Without a car?” Rhiannon asked. Jay gave her a toothy grin.
“Sure, it’s more fun that way.”
"Well, so long as you can get their attention, I mean with the weight sensor
thing-" Tate broke off when he saw the looks he was getting from Jay and Rhiannon.
"Go one word further and I'll pop your kneecaps off." she growled.
"Uh, ok.” Backing up a step, he whispered to Richmond. “Hey, is she always like this?"
"Some subjects you just do not bring up.” Richmond said firmly, “Anyway,
I'm not up for ice cream. How about someplace different?"
"Well I'm out of ideas." Jay said.
"Don't look at me, do I look like I have a clue?" Rhiannon asked.
"....After that last little discussion, I'm pleading the fifth." Tate muttered. Rhiannon stuck her tongue out at him, then sighed loudly.
“Is there a supermarket near here?” she asked Jay. The blue gargoyle nodded. “Fine. I’ll go in and get food, you winged ones stay outside. It’s probably better that way anyway.” The sound of police sirens getting nearer proved her point. Grabbing her arm, Richmond pulled her onto his back.
“Hey Richmond,” Tate said as they climbed the wall, “How the heck do you fit into human shoes, anyway?”
“Get the bigger size. Aside from my toes, I’ve got human feet.”
“What’s with your toes?”
“Only got three of them. And they’re huge, clawed things, which is why I need bigger shoes.”
“A-HEM!” Somebody shouted, very pointedly, from below. Looking down, past Rhiannon, he saw Jim and Blair standing near the crooks. The Sentinel had his hands on his hips, clearly annoyed, but the younger man had the look of somebody trying desperately not to laugh.
“Can’t you stay out of trouble for five minutes?” Jim shouted.
All four of them exchanged a look. Rhiannon snickered. Finally, Tate shouted,
“Which one of us were you referring to?”
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